PACES is pleased to publish excerpts of a speech that the Secretary General of the United Nations Correspondents Association in Vienna (UNCAV), Mr. Hermann Kroiher, addressed to members of the Philippine Community on 10 June 2022. Mr. Kroiher delivered this address at a 3-in-1 program featuring:

  • a Meet and Greet with Philippine Charge d´Affaires ad interim Ambassador Irene Susan B. Natividad,
  • the induction of officers of the Vienna International Center (VIC) Club Filipino, and
  • a celebration of the 124th Philippine Independence Day.

The program was held at the VIC and organized by the VIC Club Filipino, a strong partner of PACES in Vienna. PACES was represented by several of tis members, including President Marizel Rojas who was inducted as the incoming president of the VIC Club Filipino. The event was graced by Philippine Charge d´Affaires and interim Ambassador Irene Susan B. Natividad and officers of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna.

PACES warmly congratulates Ambassador Natividad and Ms. Rojas on their respective appointments.

As UNCAV Secretary General Mr. Hermann Kroiher is known to be a good friend to the Filipino community at the VIC and elsewhere. At the same time, he is the President of the Austrian-Icelandic Society, Vice-President of the Association Austria-Nordic Countries, and is on the Board of Directors of the Austrian-Swedish Society. Mr. Kroiher is the former Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Hamburg, Rome, Mexico City, Paris, and Stockholm.

His address at the 3-in-1 program was widely perceived to be quite inspiring and invigorating because of the warm light it cast on Austrian-Philippine relations and how it helped enhance the intercultural relationship between these two countries, which is also a key aim of PACES.

Excerpts from Mr. Hermann Kroiher address follow below:

“The most beautiful events are those where there are pleasing occasions for celebration. And we have several of these today.

I am pleased and thankful for the honour bestowed upon me to address a few words as an Austrian to the Filipino friends.

The Philippines [is] celebrating the 124th anniversary of its independence this year… Throughout its history, the Philippines has always been a sovereign state, a reliable partner and a country of peace. Last year we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Austria. However, the historical relations between the two countries go back much longer. The first Austrian to come to the Philippines was Christoph Carl Fernberg von Egenberg. He travelled the world through adverse circumstances in 1621-1628, his itinerary taking him from Guam via the Philippine Visayas Islands, among other places, in April 1623. Probably the most important element in 19th century relations, however, is the legendary friendship between the Austrian scholar Ferdinand Blumentritt and the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal. Blumentritt became Rizal’s closest confidant.

I would also like to mention that both countries, the Philippines and Austria, have never faced each other in armed conflicts – wherever in the world. Quite the contrary: mutual relations have been systematically developed and there is still a problem-free and friendly relationship between the two countries today…

I would also like to address words of thanks and appreciation to you dear Filipino friends: many of you have been here for many years, have founded a family and found a second home in Austria. Many Filipinos work in social professions or in the health sector and make a great and valuable contribution to the people [of Austria] every day. Thank you all, whatever you do, you are a valuable and important part of society and deserve the recognition and thanks of all fellow citizens.

I have spent 32 years of my professional life abroad in ten different countries with the most diverse framework conditions. I met Filipinos everywhere and made friendships that are still maintained by both sides today. Filipinos have always been loyal and positive towards the host country; despite the mostly large communities, there are never any problems with the local population or other religious and cultural communities. They also hardly ever come into conflict with the law and are held in high esteem by the host country’s authorities.

Filipinos are hard-working and use their savings to support their families back home. Peaceful coexistence is their top priority, confrontation is not their thing and their hospitality is proverbial. What they have in common everywhere, however, is their love for their homeland, and this is maintained even when they are far away by cultivating their culture.

The image and a positive or negative perception of a country is primarily made abroad. And there it is shaped by the appearance, the behaviour, the integrity and the loyalty of the compatriots who live in the respective country. And your beautiful homeland can be very proud of you [Filipinos living in Austria]. You are a great people, it is you, each and every one of you, who are a valuable calling card for the Philippines, because you also make an important contribution to the reputation of the Philippines and to international understanding.

I would like to mention a personal experience in this context. At the end of the high school with the final exam, in Austria [called] the Matura, a professor said to us at the farewell and I will never forget these words: „I have tried to impart knowledge to you during the last years and can give you nothing else on your way into the future.  But whatever you do and wherever you are, don’t forget three things: your parents, God and your homeland.“.These are great words that will never lose their relevance and validity.

…I wish you all the best in the future, keep up the enthusiasm for your country, the Philippines, and be thankful for the peace in which we are allowed to live in both countries.

Mr. Hermann Kroiher with members and officers of the VIC Club Filipino and PACES. (Credit: Dean Calma)